Oct. 12, 2009
GAME 7: ALABAMA (6-0, 3-0 SEC)
VS. SOUTH CAROLINA (5-1, 2-1 SEC)
SATURDAY, OCT. 17 • 6:45 P.M. • ESPN
BRYANT-DENNY STADIUM (92,012) • TUSCALOOSA, ALA.
THE GAME: The second-ranked University of Alabama football team begins a three-game Southeastern Conference homestand with a visit from the No. 22 South Carolina Gamecocks, on Saturday, Oct. 17, at Bryant-Denny Stadium. The game is scheduled to kick off at 6:45 p.m. on ESPN with Brad Nessler, Todd Blackledge and Erin Andrews calling the action. Eli Gold, Phil Savage and Barry Krauss will have the radio call on the Crimson Tide Sports Network.
HEAD COACH Nick Saban: Alabama head coach Nick Saban (Kent State, 1973) is in his third season with the Crimson Tide. He was named the school’s 27th head coach on January 3, 2007. Saban has compiled a 116-50-1 (.698) record as a collegiate head coach with a 25-8 (.758) mark at Alabama that includes a 6-0 record this year with a 3-0 mark in the SEC. He captured his 100th career win and coached his 150th game as a collegiate head coach during the 2008 campaign. In 2003, Saban led LSU to a 13-1 record and the BCS National Championship. Overall, Saban has coached three conference championship teams (1990 Mid-American, 2001 SEC and 2003 SEC) and nine of his 12 teams have played in post-season bowl games with Tide appearing in the 2009 Sugar Bowl. Saban is one of two (Bob Stoops) current Football Bowl Subdivision coaches to coach for at least 10 years and not suffer a losing season.
RANKINGS: Alabama was ranked fifth in both the Associated Press and USA Today Coaches’ preseason polls. It was the highest preseason ranking for the Tide since the 2000 season when they opened at No. 3. Since the preseason poll. The Tide moved to No. 4 after the opening weekend with an Oklahoma loss and then to No. 3 in week three when Southern California fell at Washington. The Tide moved up to No. 2, jumping Texas, in the AP poll after a 22-3 win at No. 20 Mississippi in week six. The Tide stayed at No. 3 in the coahces poll. UA garnered a season-high 10 first-place votes in the AP poll and five in the coaches poll. The Gamecocks are ranked 22nd in both the AP and USA Today coaches polls.
SOUTH CAROLINA SERIES: Alabama leads the series with South Carolina, 11-2. The two teams have not met since the Crimson Tide posted a 37-14 win over the Gamecocks on Sept. 17, 2005, at Williams-Brice Stadium in Columbia. In the last meeting at Bryant-Denny Stadium, South Carolina posted a 20-3 win over the Crimson Tide on Sept. 18, 2004. Alabama holds an 8-1 series lead in games played in the state of Alabama, including a 7-1 mark in Tuscaloosa.
VLACHOS, TIFFIN HONORED: Junior center William Vlachos was named the Southeastern Conference Offensive Lineman of the Week and senior kicker Leigh Tiffin was named the Lou Groza Award “Star of Stars” for their efforts in the Crimson Tide’s 22-3 win at Mississippi on Oct. 10, in Oxford. Vlachos played all 76 offensive snaps in the Crimson Tide’s 22-3 win at No. 20 Mississippi this past Saturday in Oxford. The Mountain Brook native helped clear the way for sophomore running back Mark Ingram’s career-high 172 rushing yards in the win over the Rebels. Ingram added a 36-yard burst in the second quarter for the Tide’s only touchdown. Vlachos anchored an offensive front that paved the way for 4.9 yards per carry on Saturday. He also did not allow sack or get called for any penalties. Vlachos earned Alabama’s fifth SEC Player of the Week honor this season, joining Ingram (vs. Virginia Tech), Trent Richardson (vs. Florida International and Arkansas) and Rolando McClain (vs. Kentucky). Tiffin earned his second “Star of Stars” award of the 2009 season after making all five field goals attempts against the Rebels on Saturday. Tiffin made field goals of 21, 21, 22, 25 and 31 yards to move into second place on the Alabama charts with 67 field goals, trailing Philip Doyle’s school-record mark by 11 field goals. Tiffin’s 14 made field goals this season tie him for the nation’s lead. He leads the SEC and ranks third nationally with 2.33 field goals per game. Tiffin also earned “Star of Stars” recognition following the Tide’s season-opening win over Virginia Tech.
UA COACHES PLAYERS OF THE WEEK: The Alabama coaching staff recognized eight players of the week following the Crimson Tide’s 22-3 win over No. 20 Mississippi on Saturday. Mark Ingram, Vlachos and Barrett Jones were honored as offensive players of the week while Rolando McClain and Kareem Jackson took home defensive honors. Cory Reamer, Leigh Tiffin and Nico Johnson garnered special teams honors. Vlachos and Jones blocked for Ingram to rush for a career-high 172 yards and his seventh rushing touchdown and 10 total touchdown of the season. Ingram busted loose for a 36-yard touchdown run late the second quarter on fourth and one for the Tide’s only touchdown. McClain registered seven tackles, one tackle for loss, his second interception of the season and a quarterback hurry. Jackson notched his first pick of the season in the second half and returned it 79 yards. He also made four solo tackles as the Tide defense limited the Rebels to just 197 total yards and 57 rushing yards. Tiffin paced the special teams, going 5 for 5 on field goals, which was a career high and one shy of the Alabama single-game record. He scored 16 total points to move into third place on the UA career scoring list. Reamer and Johnson were everywhere on the Tide’s cover teams. Reamer recorded a tackle, blocked a punt which led to a field goal and forced a fumble and then recovered it to setup another Tiffin field goal.
ALABAMA-SOUTH CAROLINA SERIES IN-DEPTH: Alabama leads the all-time series with South Carolina, 11-2. The Crimson Tide and Gamecocks first met on Oct. 9, 1937, with the Tide posting a 20-0 win. In fact the first three games in the series were all shutout wins for Alabama. The Crimson Tide beat the Gamecocks 29-0 in 1942 and 55-0 in 1945. Alabama made its first trek to Columbia during the 1946 season and came away with a 14-6 victory. The two teams would not meet again until a three-game series in 1965, 1966 and 1967. The Crimson Tide won all three games, including shutout wins in 1966 (24-0) and 1967 (17-0). Alabama and South Carolina will be meeting for the just seventh time since the Gamecocks joined the SEC in 1992. Alabama has won four of the first six meetings in SEC play. The Crimson Tide posted a 48-7 homecoming win during the 1992 season and followed with a 17-6 win in Columbia in 1993. The Crimson Tide and Gamecocks split a home-and-home series in 2001-02. Alabama posted a 27-17 win in Tuscaloosa, before dropping a 37-36 shootout in Columbia in 2001. The Gamecocks extended their series winning streak to two games with a 20-6 win over the Tide in Tuscaloosa in 2004. Alabama won the next year, 37-14, in Columbia. Alabama holds an 8-1 series lead in games played in the state of Alabama, including a 7-1 mark in Tuscaloosa. Alabama has won three of the four meetings with South Carolina in Columbia.
SABAN VS. SOUTH CAROLINA: Alabama head coach Nick Saban is 2-0 in his collegiate career against South Carolina, with both wins coming while he was head coach at LSU. Saban led the Tigers to a 38-14 win over the Gamecocks on Oct. 19, 2002, in Baton Rouge and a 33-7 win on Oct. 18, 2003, in Columbia.
SPURRIER VS. ALABAMA: South Carolina head coach Steve Spurrier is 6-4 in his career against Alabama, with nine of those meetings taking place while the head coach at Florida from 1990-2001. Spurrier was 6-3 against the Tide as the Gators head coach, posting regular season wins in 1990, 1991 and 1998 and three wins in the SEC Championship Game (1993, 1994 and 1996). UA picked up two wins in the SEC Championship Game (1992 and 1999) and one regular season win (1999). The Crimson Tide won two games during the 1999 SEC Championship season, beating Florida, 40-39, in overtime on Oct. 2 in Gainesville and 34-7 in the SEC Championship Game in Atlanta on Dec. 4. Spurrier is 0-1 against Alabama since becoming the head coach at South Carolina. The Crimson Tide beat the Gamecocks 37-14 during the 2005 season in Columbia. Spurrier is 2-0 against Alabama in Bryant-Denny Stadium, winning 17-13 in 1990 and 16-10 in 1998.
ALABAMA-SOUTH CAROLINA TIES: There are several ties to the Alabama-South Carolina coaching staffs heading into Saturday’s Alabama-South Carolina game. South Carolina assistant head coach/linebackers coach Ellis Johnson served two coaching stints at Alabama under Gene Stallings (1990-93) and Mike DuBose (1997-2000). South Carolina defensive coordinator and secondary coach Lorenzo Ward played and coached at Alabama. Ward played for Bill Curry and Gene Stallings and earned his bachelor’s degree in physical education in 1991. He later served as a graduate assistant coach under Stallings in 1991 and 1993.
ALABAMA CELEBRATES HOMECOMING: Alabama will play its 89th Homecoming football game this Saturday when the Crimson Tide hosts South Carolina at Bryant-Denny Stadium. Alabama has compiled a 74-13-1 (.839) all-time homecoming record, including a 35-0 win over Arkansas State on Nov. 1, 2008. The Crimson Tide is riding a seven-game homecoming winning streak dating back to the 2002 season. UA has not lost on homecoming since a 35-21 loss to LSU (coached by Nick Saban) on Nov. 3, 2001. Alabama’s current seven-game homecoming winning streak is the longest streak since a school-record 26-game winning streak from 1958-83. The first homecoming game took place on Armistice Day during the 1920 season. J.T. O’Connor, a senior back from St. Louis, Mo., scored two touchdowns and kicked all three extra points in the 21-0 win. From 1929-39, Alabama won 11 consecutive homecoming games. The streak was snapped with a 13-0 loss to Mississippi State on Nov. 30, 1940. After the loss to MSU, Alabama reeled off a nine-game winning streak from 1941-50. UA did not play football in 1943. The Crimson Tide followed that 10-game winning streak with a 2-4-1 (.429) record in its next seven homecoming games from 1951-57. The Tide’s 30-21 loss to Florida on Nov. 24, 1951 snapped a nine-game homecoming winning streak. Alabama posted a school-record 26-game homecoming winning streak from 1958-83. Coach Paul “Bear” Bryant was a perfect 25-0 in homecoming games at Alabama from 1958-82. Coach Ray Perkins extended the streak to 26 games with a 44-13 win over Memphis State on Oct. 1, 1983. The streak ended the following year with a 30-21 loss to Vanderbilt on Sept. 29, 1984. Alabama defeated Southwestern Louisiana (now Louisiana-Lafayette) 38-10 on Oct. 3, 1987 at Birmingham’s Legion Field in the only homecoming game not played on the UA campus. The Crimson Tide played all of its games at Legion Field during the 1987 season as Bryant-Denny Stadium underwent an expansion project. Since 1984, Alabama has compiled an 18-6 homecoming record over the last 24 years.
NEXT GAME: Alabama continues a three-game homestand with a visit from the Tennessee Volunteers on Saturday, Oct. 24. The game will be televised by CBS Sports with kickoff set for 2:30 p.m. (CDT). The Crimson Tide leads the series 48-36-7. UA enters the game having won the last two meetings with the Volunteers. The Tide posted a 41-17 win in Tuscaloosa in 2007 and then went into Neyland Stadium for a resounding 29-9 win in 2008.